During tonight’s first semi-final in Karlstad, the Melodifestivalen 2018 acts did their best to impress. Kamferdrops emerged from a cloud of pink smoke. Kikki Danielsson channeled Osby, Tennessee. And Edward Blom danced with men and women dressed as food. In the end none of them lived to see another day at Melfest. Instead John Lundvik (“My Turn”) and Benjamin Ingrosso (“Dance You Off”) went direkt till final, while Sigrid Bernson (“Patrick Swayze”) and Renaida (“All the Feels”) will compete in Andra Chansen a week before the final.
Melodifestivalen 2018: Semi-Final 1 Qualifiers
John Lundvik, “My Turn”
Singer on piano, camera angle showing the audience with lights shining, a golden shower of pyro — this was very Eurovision by the numbers. And while John Lundvik’s cream suit had an air of “cruise ship waiter” to it, he brought something something very special with his voice — resonant, soaring, precise and strong. He rose to fame partly by singing at the royal wedding. So it’s no surprise this was a tad saccharine. But he played to the genre with aplomb and seemed to be sincerely feeling it. His charm, voice and sincerity made this special (if a tad predictable).
Benjamin Ingrosso, “Dance You Off”
As in 2017, Benjamin plays with old school disco. Besides giving him the honour of performing last, producers amped up his song — which sounds a bit familiar and throwback — with some eye-popping staging. Dancing, moonwalking and voguing before a series of horizontal lights, he’s in a world of his own and the audience only features at the end. It takes the song from somewhat mediocre to visually arresting. Working the upper register, the song grated on my ears at times and the backing vocalists seemed a tad loud. But on the whole this was clearly deserving of a spot in the next round.
Andra Chansen qualifiers
Renaida, “All the Feels”
Among the most Spotify-friendly tracks of the evening, this came with plenty of digital flourishes and a pulsating beat. Renaida — a bundle of energy of light — came out bedecked in black and orange, even matching her (very long) fingernails with orange accents in her braids. It was urban and slick, but, as with so many other tracks here, seemed to lack a grand climax. No matter — she’s sure to have won over plenty of fans with her obvious talent and major likability.
Sigrid Bernson, “Patrick Swayze”
Blonde, beautiful and smooth on the dance floor, Sigrid has all the attributes to slay as a pop star. Unfortunately she still needs the song. This felt a bit basic and heard-it-all-before, and it lacked a memorable climax. Towards the end they pulled a “spectator” onto the stage — we all thought he was going to pull out an Australian flag for a split second. But he was, of course, another stage prop and lifted her into the air like Patrick Swayze did in “Dirty Dancing”. It was meant to excited, but left a sense of lame in the air.
5th place: Edward Blom, “Livet på en pinne”
He’s a historian known for his love of food and a viral single on the topic. And he brought that passion to the stage with dancers dressed as cakes, bananas, crabs and a bundle of grapes. And while the Swedish audience cheered and laughed and were in on the joke, plenty of us non-Swedish speakers were left saying WTF? To his credit Edward is clearly very amusing and clever, and he seemed to be relishing his moment on the Melfest stage. We appreciate his appreciation.
6th place: Kamferdrops, “Solen lever kvar hos dig”
Bathed in smoke and plenty of pink, Kamferdrops definitely made a statement. She wore her signature mask, accompanied by a shiny pink tracksuit. At one point a man in a matching blue version of her outfit put her inside a magician’s box and seemed to cut her body in half, with her head beneath a unicorn’s. A sax player also shot pyro from his instrument. It was all a bit weird…and not in that captivating and enchanting way, but in that “I think someone did a lot of drugs during the creative process.”
7th place: Kikki Danielsson, “Osby Tennessee”
The title says it all — this was a tribute to country performed by a singer who some may consider past her prime. But this former MGP contestant, Melfest winner and Eurovision star (including third place), proved that she’s still got a gorgeous voice…even if the song was from another era (which you could have guessed from the old school country costumes, banjos and melody. But good on Kikki for continuing to do what she loves and representing older generations at a contest known to skew young.